WE haven't been told about this!

DWP Central Freedom of Information Team

e-mail: freedom-of-information-request@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

Our Ref: FOI 4180

12 September 2013

Dear Ms

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request dated 30 August 2013. In this request, you

asked:

I have just read over 200-pages of your: Can the Work Programme work for all user groups?

First Report of Session 2013-14 and it begs some questions:

You state in this document and I quote:

"We recommend that DWP work with providers to agree a process by which participants whom

providers believe are clearly unfit for work can be referred back to Jobcentre Plus".

So my questions are thus:

Q1. When a person fails the ATOS assessment and is found “fit for work” what happens if he

doesn’t fit the criteria for JSA? What is his/her recourse, when he’s failed the claim for ESA

and can’t sign on? What benefits can he claim?

Q2 if a failed ESA claimant – through sheer destitution – signs on JSA and the work

programme find him/her clearly unfit for work do you:

(i) Sanction the claimant because he’s deemed too ill?

(ii) Deny the claimant any benefits at all?

(iii) Allow him/her the ESA s/he was initially denied?

(iv) Let the claimant claim sickness pay

Q3. ATOS assessors claim they have nothing to do with the decision making and yet Atos

Trainer 1 (on Channel 4’s dispatches aired Monday 30 July 2012 at 20:00) said: “You shall

remember this new benefit Employment Support Allowance was meant to take people off the

benefit.” Please can you tell me how much involvement ATOS has in the decision making?

And why do the decision makers always believe ATOS, even if you the claimant can prove that

ATOS lied or were inaccurate?

I will answer each of your questions in turn:

Question 1:

When a person does not meet the criteria for Employment and Support Allowance or

Jobseeker's Allowance they may satisfy the criteria for Carers Allowance (CA) or Income Support (IS).

Information about the eligibility for CA and IS is available on the GOV.UK internet site via the

following link:

gov.uk/browse/benefits

Question 2:

To qualify for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), unemployed people must be available for and actively seeking work. They are also required to enter into a Jobseeker’s Agreement in which they agree the steps they will take to improve their chances of finding employment. JSA claimants generally have to be available immediately for any work and for a minimum of 40 hours each week; however there are exceptions to this rule.

In accordance with Regulation 13(3) of the Jobseeker’s Allowance Regulations (1996), people

who suffer from a mental or physical condition that limits the work they are able to do can

restrict their availability for work in any way providing their restrictions are reasonable in the

light of this condition. .

The Jobseeker’s Allowance Regulations (1996) are freely available on the internet via the DWP Website, and can be accessed via the following link:

dwp.gov.uk/docs/a11-4001.pdf

The role of a Work Programme Provider is not to determine whether a person is fit/unfit for work, rather providers are required to help Work Programme participants find and stay in work.

Whilst people are on the Work Programme, they usually have to continue to fulfil the conditions for claiming JSA. Where a Work Programme Provider suspects that a claimant is not fulfilling these conditions then they are required to notify Jobcentre Plus of this.

Where a claimant does not actively seek work and/or is not available for work their JSA will stop and their claim will end. In order to get paid Jobseeker’s Allowance again the person will need to reclaim JSA, however if a person reclaims JSA after such a failure, they may have a further sanction imposed on their JSA, in accordance with Regulation 69B of the Jobseeker’s Allowance Regulations (1996).

Question 3:

The Decision Maker gives a considered opinion taking into account all available information.

This includes the claimants answers on the form ESA50, any supporting evidence the claimant may have included or have been obtained by Atos Healthcare e.g. doctors or consultants reports and the assessment report provided by Atos Healthcare. All evidence is given equal consideration. Before a claim is disallowed the Decision Maker will attempt to contact the claimant by phone to discuss if they have any further evidence they would wish to be take into account.

Information about the Work Capability Assessment process is available on the internet in the

DWP Decision Makers’ Guide via the following link:

dwp.gov.uk/docs/dmgch42.pdf

If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the reference number

above.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

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there is a link but I don't know how to put it on, so I copied it, interesting information!

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3 Replies

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  • Hi Mazz

    Thanks for this.

    Yes, they never tell you anything, you have to go digging. I have recently found out that SOME people will be eligible for Income Support if they are waiting to appeal under the new mandatory reconsideration rules. However, it's worth checking out the criteria and getting proper advice.

    It's also worth noting that in support of your information that under the Equality Act disabled people can restrict the amount and type of work they do. Therefore the Job Centre can't reasonably force someone to look for work of 40 hours a week. The Equality Act is there to enable disabled people to work and to make 'reasonable adjustments' which can include number of hours worked, specialist equipment etc.

    :-)

  • With regards to Question 3's Answer.

    "Decision Maker will attempt to contact the claimant by phone to discuss if they have any further evidence" I had sent further evidence well in advance to my assessment and then further supporting evidence when I appealed but no one had made any attempt to contact me. All the conditions I have were mentioned to the Assessor and non of them them were mentioned in my report. I was unable to claim IS because they claimed my wife worked in excess of 100 Hours a month. But she only worked 17 hours a week and was told "I have no right to question their decision?"

    Great bit of info well done.

  • Hi offcut. yes the mysterious phone calls, I have had 2 ESA50s and a third one sent last month, the 2 previous time they claim they tried to contact me by phone, I don't know what number they were using but it wasn't mine, I did ask for the date and times of these calls, as I was sure they would have logged it, but they couldn't give me an answer strangely enough. they lie plain and simple. If I have to appeal my next claim, I will be taking a copy of the above to the job centre, see what they have to say about that.

    "No right to question their decision" they have a bloody cheek, when they multiply 17 by 4 and come up with over a 100, I would question if they should be in the job at all!

    I'm also having my next assessment recorded, because as you say, you tell them your stuff and there is no mention of it in report, now we all suffer fibro fog but I'm sure we know what conditions we have, so for my records I will have the recording to check back on, just to make sure I'm not completely crazy.

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